Talent shines at Saracen Horse Feeds Quest Championships
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Bramshott Braves (U21) and Three Hunters and a Hippy storm to Team Quest victory while natives and cobs shine in My Quest.
Three days of intense competition at Bury Farm (27-30 October 2022) were matched by incredible camaraderie and support for fellow riders. Questers have become notorious for their ability to have fun, support every rider and create a welcoming all-inclusive atmosphere. Quest gives those new to the sport the chance to try dressage for the first time and there’s no need to have a bespoke dressage horse – many of this year’s winners were first-timers. Quest welcomed hunters, show jumpers, team chasers, happy hackers, veterans and youngsters – all wanting to ‘give it a go’.
The winning open team Three Hunters and a Hippy embodies the spirit of the Quest competition. These four lovely ladies (pictured above) are friends from hunting with the Worcestershire Hunt and competing as a team has strengthened their bond. Although their first love is hunting, they took the competition deadly seriously. They recruited dressage rider Nicky Patrick as their trainer and spurred on by team member Sarah Lovatt (known as ‘Clipboard’ for her organising skills), the ladies held regular training sessions increasing to fortnightly in the run up to the Championship.
Sarah fits her hunting and dressage in around a busy life as a director of two companies, studying for a law degree and being wife to the Chairman of the Worcestershire Hunt. She has had Bawnslieve Boy (Merlin) since he came over from Ireland as a five-year-old and she describes him as a ‘party pony’ who loves to get involved. “He was a bit overwhelmed at the beginning of the show but got better and better,” she said. The pair competed in the MyQuest competition last year.
Merlin is a trail layer for the Hunt, together with Naomi Tailby’s ride Patch (Oliveanamon Prince). Naomi describes the 16-year-old ‘Turbo Cob’ as normally very biddable although in his My Quest test in the indoor arena, Patch didn’t cope very well and tried to do a runner. “He was much more relaxed in the outside arena,” said Naomi, who increased her score by 6% over the two Team Quest tests. She combines her riding and hunting with running a successful Air B&B on the family farm.
Naomi and team-mate Vicky Lee Gibbs only started affiliated dressage this year so have made enormous progress to be champions only a few months later. Vicky bought her dancing partner Caellyn Daffyd Tomos for £426 from Leominster Sales as a two-year-old. “I struggle with my nerves so I mainly hack,” said Vicky who is an insurance broker. “Tom looks after me and has held my hand in the tests. I couldn’t be more proud of him.” The pair scored over 70% in both their intro tests and were reserve champion in the My Quest Open Intro.
The team described Chloe Stiley’s Irish Buck (James) as their ‘secret weapon’ with the top scores in the open competition of over 72%. The pair (pictured above) also took the My Quest Open Prelim title at the start of the show.
This is all despite the fact that dressage isn’t James’ main job. The 17.3hh Irish Sports Horse is a hunter and team chaser and his summer dressage activities are designed to keep him supple.
“He’s a thruster’s horse who loves big fences. He’ll be at the Worcestershire Hunt opening meet next week. His real forte is team chasing,” explained Chloe. “I’ve loved doing the dressage training and being part of the team. Quest is such a friendly way of competing and it’s great to do it with friends.”
James’ strength is his accuracy and he had some great remarks from the judges, such as ‘a pleasure to watch’ and ‘impressive’.
The team demonstrates that success comes when you put the work in. Close friendship between the members has also helped to spur them on. “When we are training, we all stay and watch each other’s lessons,” said Chloe. Well done ladies, a well-deserved win.
There was a tussle for second and third places with the Cherry Tarts pipping Bridled Passion by less than two marks. The four Cherry Tarts team members are all based at, or have connections with Pickering Grange in Coalville, Leicestershire.
It’s the first time this combination of riders and horses has teamed up and the team is spearheaded by Pickering Grange Equestrian’s owner, Rachel Littlewood. Olivia Moore, who works for Rachel, rode her horse MSF Sinfonia, while Rachel tackled the novice class on Olivia’s Talulah. The team’s reserve championship win was aided by a 70%+ score each from Olivia and Jessica Steventon with her Connemara Kiltrateera Oscar. The fourth member of the team, Sally Ann Wright and Irish Draught Crown Farm Concerto put in two solid tests, only just missing out on breaching the 70% barrier on the second day.
The third-placed Bridled Passion team was made up of Georgie Lynch, Rebecca Lloyd, Lucy Harrower and Lola Rega. Lola was also a My Quest winner (see below).
Braves show their mettle
The U21 winners Bramshott Braves (pictured above) came in quite a long way ahead of their rivals, Ride or Dye and Team Castellau. They benefited from the talent of 18-year-old schoolmaster Twyford Salamander, a gorgeous Palomino section B who is a real showman, while being impeccably behaved.
Trained to Prix St Georges by Nicola Byam-Cook, ‘Solo’ is now the perfect schoolmaster for her children Jemima (9) and Rupert (11). They train with their mum and international rider and trainer, former British National Dressage Champion, Nicky Pasco (formerly Barrett).
“Everyone is very friendly and there’s a great atmosphere at all the Quest shows,” commented Rupert. “It builds your confidence in the ring.”
The third team member was Charlotte Dance (14) on her attractive grey Connemara, Linsford Theo. She has had the seven-year-old pony for three years and this is their first year doing Quest. “He was very good in the test and did everything I wanted him to do.”
The Ride or Dye team beat Team Castellau by less than two marks. They competed last year as a team of three.
Joseph Thomas (15) has had seven-year-old Irish Draught Unnamed (Mabel) for four months and is concentrating on dressage with her. Lilly Davies (18) was pleased with her scores of 68% for both Prelim tests. Daniel Pescador-Smith described Crownagopple Diamond as ‘off her head’ and ‘mental this weekend’ – obviously overwhelmed by the atmosphere or has a wicked sense of humour. Evie Kendrick and Murry were consistent performers for the team with scores of 67% and 68%.
My Quest victories
Andrea Sparkes won the Open Novice with an excellent 70%+ score with her 16-year-old Kazan (pictured above). “I’ve had him nine years in December,” recalled Andrea. “I bought him when my daughters were starting out in ponies and he evented with one of them. They’ve now gone to university so I thought it was time to start doing something with him.
“Although he’s Dutch-bred he came from Ireland where he’d been hunting. He was unbalanced and strong and found the arena difficult. I started to train with Jade Thomas in February. I could only manage 15 minutes at a time as I was so unfit! Jade recommended Quest and I’ve found everyone very constructive and friendly. I plucked up courage to go to Cherwell in May. He hasn’t done many Novice tests but still won the regional final last month.
“He’s a very genuine kind horse and will always give it a go. I was nervous in my Prelim test as there was a lot for him to look at and I forgot a couple of movements. I thought “I’m here now” so I’ll give the Novice a go. He gave it a good go – all our transitions were accurate. I was very proud of him.”
Matthew Buckland and Deborah Newman’s Welsh section D, Merry Boy (pictured above), won the Senior Intro title, although Matthew says, ‘I’m really a showjumper’. “I never dreamt my first championship win would be at dressage!” he said. “He won’t jump so we decided to try dressage and he’s gone from strength to strength. He felt great in the test – it brought out the showman in him.”
Olivia Bruce (16) scored well in the Under 21 Intro B with a winning mark of 71.38%. She has owned New Forest pony Hollybrooke Calvados (Harry) - pictured above - for six months. She trains with Carina Jenkinson and Sam Roberts. “He’s very relaxed and takes everything we do in his stride,” commented Olivia. “It was our personal best score. He’s very willing to learn and likes to try new things.”
Lola Rega (17), part of the third-placed Bridled Passion team, started the show with a great win in the Novice class with her own Amy 13 (pictured above). She bought the Connemara x cob as a six-year-old when she was quite green and has been doing a bit of everything with her. “She’s a very confidence giving pony and didn’t put a food wrong in her test. We had second as well in the Prelim so I’m very happy!”
Lola won the Under 21 Intro title last year with Amy and that demonstrates what Quest is all about – the chance to move up the levels in a friendly atmosphere.
Top youth score
Freya Percival (14) was the highest-scoring Under 21 rider, and overall, with a mark of 71.86%. She believes her Prelim winner (pictured above) has the best personality ever. Freya has owned Houwdoe for two years and has trained him herself with the help of Vikki Hayton and her mum Greta. They had top 10 places in the Prelim and Novice last year and this year they placed sixth in the Novice.
“He was fantastic in his Prelim test and I think it was the best we’ve ever done,” commented Freya. “He’s got a really good work ethic and is always well-behaved at shows.”
The stables had some wonderfully artistic decoration, many with Halloween themes. The winner of the Best Dressed Stable competition was The Moor Hens with a creative Alice in Wonderland theme. Best Team Selfie was won by Jenkinson’s Aces.
The Gala Evening was very well supported with a great atmosphere for international Grand Prix rider Louise Bell’s demonstration and an invitational freestyle competition which paired top riders with a Prelim competitor. Winners were Nathalie Kayal and Woodcroft Emilion (PSG) and Ann Housden and Haweswater Ignatius.
Congratulations to all competitors whatever the scores. Almost 400 tests were ridden and the organisation from the Bury Farm team was superb. Thank you to the judges, stewards and volunteers who put in some long hours to make sure the show ran smoothly. So it’s back to training to prepare for next year!
RESULTS – TOP THREE
Saracen Horse Feeds My Quest National Championships
Under 21 Intro B
1. Olivia Bruce and Hollybrooke Calvados, 71.37%
2. Rupert Byam-Cook and Twyford Salamander, 71.01%
3. Rose Cassapi Paskins and Westfirie Golden Oriole, 70.72%
Under 21 Prelim 14
1. Freya Percival and Houwdoe, 71.85%
2. Lola Rega and Amy 13, 70.89%
3. Annabelle Wesley and Armada Dyffryncothi Bridge, 69.67%
Under 21 Novice 27
1. Lola Rega and Amy 13, 69.34%
2. Elise Cunningham and Nantllesg Allan, 68.27%
3. Charlotte Dance and Linsford Theo, 67.91%
Open Intro B
1. Matthew Buckland and Eyam Allison’s Merry Boy, 71.30%
2. Vicky Lee and Caellyn Daffyd Tomos, 70.87%
3. Emma Louise Coverdale and SCH Ophelia, 70.65%
Open Prelim 14
1. Chloe Stiley and Irish Buck, 70.12%
2. Zoe Ryan and Bella 15, 69.67%
3. Hollie-Ann Head and Farino Poppy, 69.29%
Open Novice 27
1. Andrea Sparkes and Kazan, 70.29%
2. Jane Phillips and Polo’s Limited Edition, 69.28%
3. Katherine Wilkinson and My Boy Scout, 68.92%
Saracen Horse Feeds Team Quest
1. Three Hunters and a Hippy, 420,38
2. Cherry Tarts, 413.73
3. Bridled Passion, 412,10
1. Bramshott Braves, 436.44
2. Ride Or Dye, 407.34
3. Team Castellau, 406.49%
Photo © Kevin Sparrow